Self Help Now: A community blog

Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers advice for maintaining your mental health.

Overcompensation--Too Much Discipline or Too Little

Written by Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade, Community blogger | Nov 3, 2013 1:52 PM

Two parents, one overdisciplines the child and the other plays "best friend," letting the child have too much control and get away with too much. It's the balance of nature. Each confuses and frightens the child, one afraid of what the other has to offer. The disciplinarian overdoes it and begets fear, disrespect, and alienation. The permissive parent encourages insecurity (since it's quite a job to be one's own boss even as a teen), disrespect of another sort and sometimes testing limits in inappropriate or scary ways. The more one disciplines or protects, the more the other excuses and permits and vice versa.

To solve this problem, there needs to be continued balance of a different sort. Each has to modify the pattern, one by toning down the discipline and making it more of a comfortable, loving learning experience than a punishment and the other of promoting somelimits, boundaries. logical consequences and responsibilities when the child does something beyond the "rules."

As common as this imbalance is in a marriage, it's more prevalent and worse in a divorce. Then, sometimes the disciplinarian alienates the child and the other parent is guilty of PAS (Parent Alienation Syndrome), about which I have written before. No, sorry, disciplinarian, you did it yourself. Correct it yourself. Apologize. Think of better solutions, like reassuring the child of your love and concern, making sure your reactions are age appropriate and more flexible, asking the child for some ideas, and setting up a teaching situation in which the child does something which makes up for or improves what was done wrong. For cyberbullying or sexting, perhaps volunteer work in a church food bank or thrift shop may be good, or training in auto mechanics, or playing with and babysitting some little kids as a good role model. For staying up too late or coming home late, try coming home that much earlier next time. For bad language, try good language practice. For not doing chores, how about a few extra chores? Don't torture with long time-outs, alienate with major grounding in isolation, or take away electronics for something that has nothing to do with electronics.

Good luck!

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